Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip launched more than 115 rockets at Israel on Monday, and Israeli forces hit back with airstrikes that killed at least three suspected militants and struck targets including two mosques and a school, Israeli officials said.
Nearly a week after the latest cease-fire collapsed, mediator Egypt was still trying to cajole Israel and the Palestinians to return to indirect talks in tandem with a new temporary truce.
Israel has said it won’t negotiate while mortar and rocket fire continues. Israeli media reports said the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad, which is represented on the Palestinian negotiating team, signaled willingness to observe a new short-term cease-fire. However, it was not immediately clear whether Hamas, which controls Gaza, would accept the initiative.
At least 10 Palestinians died in the latest round of bombardment, Palestinian health officials reported. The 7-week-old conflict has killed more than 2,100 people in Gaza. Israel’s death toll stands at 68, all but four of them soldiers.
Nearly all the rockets that hit Israel on Monday were either intercepted or fell in open areas, officials said. One Israeli man suffered minor injuries.
Israeli military officials said over the weekend that they were expanding the Gaza target list to include any structure used by militants for hostile purposes.
The military said the school that was struck, in the battered district of Shejaiya, had been used as a rocket-launching site, and that one of the targeted mosques contained a weapons cache and the other served as a rendezvous point for fighters. More than 60 mosques have been destroyed or damaged in the fighting that began July 8, Palestinian officials have said.
The army also released video of what it described as the grounds of a medical facility in Gaza City’s Shati refugee camp being used to launch a rocket.
Israel’s pulverizing over the weekend of two multistory buildings allegedly used by Hamas raised fears among those living in tall buildings lining Gaza City’s waterfront. “We are so worried we will face the same fate -- it’s so terrifying,” said Alaa Hasham, 24, who lives in a high-rise near the beach.
Amid the intensified fighting, Israel appeared to be pushing ahead with a campaign of pinpoint strikes aimed at Hamas officials and other militant figures. Police in Gaza said an airstrike hit the home of a Hamas justice ministry official, but that he escaped unharmed. Later, Israeli officials said three members of a smaller Hamas-linked faction were killed by an airstrike that hit the car they were riding in.
In the last week, Israel has taken aim at a string of Hamas figures, including the head of the group’s military wing, Mohammed Deif, whose fate is still unknown. Three senior commanders were killed in an airstrike in the southern town of Rafah, and a man identified by Israel as a paymaster was killed Sunday.
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